The call of nature: no leaks please..
By Vivek Hande
The victorious England team recently celebrated their Ashes victory on the pitch at Lords by answering “nature’s call” and chose to water the pitch after some feverish Beer drinking. Not quite cricket and not quite gentlemanly, one might say. But what is a leak amongst friends- when you have to go, you have to go.
Apart from some sniggers and some smirks and suppressed amusement, I doubt if this would really outrage a country like us. For us, no place is really sacrosanct. Roads, pavements, streets, buildings, garages, parking lots, gardens, parks, railway tracks and in more recent times ,even coaches in local trains – anywhere , anytime , wherever on the go :that seems to be the motto. The truth is that in large measure, the progress of a country has to be determined by its standards of sanitation. The less we speak about the standards of sanitation and hygiene in this country , lesser is the stink raised.
It is a fact that more than fifty percent of the 1.2 billion population of the country has no access to toilets. The governments have spent more than 1250 billion rupees on creating toilets and hygiene infrastructure in the last twenty years. However, open air defecation continues to be the norm and toilets that have come up in many villages and rural areas are located unimaginatively and are used as stores for fodder and grain! These are the facts of a government conducted survey and quite literally, money seems to be going down the drain.
There are toilets in stations and bus stops but do try using them at your own peril. It is a nightmare which may scar you for life. Roads have improved and we have some glorious highways, but there is very little appreciable difference in the standards of the loos. If you are a lady, you can be sure you won’t forget a road trip in a big hurry. Men can be men and can water plants anywhere along the road.
I don’t think we can qualify to ever be called a civilized nation or a developed one, if we can’t get the basic standards of sanitation accessible to each and everyone. We can build satellites and nuclear reactors and be the amongst the oldest civilizations of the world, but we still cannot defecate and urinate with dignity. That is the stinking truth!!!